My Main Meds: Music & Movement

Posted on September 2, 2020


In my quest to read all the books Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote, I have learned much that has helped me understand and navigate, first, my new world after a traumatic brain injury, second, my always-new world of physical challenges related to spinal cord and nerve damage, and, more generally, human brains, bodies, and behavior.

Sacks’ work came to mind almost immediately upon slamming into the ground in my recent fall from the glorious pastime of roller skating. My first thoughts were focused on stabilizing my most-seriously-injured left wrist, but as I felt the symptoms of shock arise with waves of cold sweat and nausea, I recalled Oliver’s constant awareness of his own, injured leg and the medical science that explained what he experienced.

As soon as I hit the ground, excruciating pain tore through both wrists, and my spine felt like I’d been hit by lightning. My first thought was, “I’m fucked.”

My second thought was, “Skates off.”

My left hand was too damaged to help, and my right wrist and forearm were weakening and swelling. I had to lean back and press the skates to my chest to carry them to the car.

When I got to the car, it was clear that the biggest problem was my left wrist. I laid it carefully on the car door, pressing it into the least-painful position before I drove home…

The fall triggered all the old injuries to my spine, neck, shoulder, and jaw from a 1991 car crash. The wrist pain was addressed in short order by a partial cast and sling, but the rest of the injuries knocked me down and made it clear that healing at age 56 is decidedly different from healing a younger body.

I recalled that Oliver Sacks’ work with “frozen” Parkinson’s patients showed how music can free a body and increase fluidity and rhythm of movement, so I have made music an essential part of my physical therapy.

I’ve found, as have athletes, that music “pumps me up” and lifts my spirits, making my body feel lighter. Music boosts my energy, gives me rhythm, helps me flow.

I listen to music to write, to do house chores, to stretch, to hula hoop, to stretch, to do finger exercises, to increase range of motion and flexibility, to dance, to stretch…

I have consciously curated music to promote a positive mindset, while minimizing stressors, such as those caused by social media and news, from which I’m taking a break.

More groove; less static.

That’s better.

(Thank you, Dr. Sacks.)

My Healing Helpers

Afropop Worldwide: Afropop Worldwide is an internationally syndicated weekly radio series, online guide to African and world music, and an international music archive, that has introduced American listeners to the music cultures of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean since 1988.

Higher Reasoning Reggae Time: Contemporary Roots Reggae Music with Dub, Lover’s Rock, Ska, & some other stuff from international sources. Recent, brand new, & pre-releases; selections by DJ RasDanny Fallon.

Mzansi Deep: DJ Naid and Terence Rhoda and guest take you on a journey of Soulful & Deep House from a South African DJ’s perspective. With featured guest DJ’s from all over South Africa.

The Progressive Underground: The Progressive Underground (TPU) with Chris Campbell serves up a creative mix Afro-pean, house, electronic.

Soul Saturday: Nick’s imaginative mix merges genres like soul and hip-hop with electronica and funk into a rich tapestry of rhythm and sound that is uniquely Detroit.

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing musical instruments, people on stage and indoor

lisa eddy is a writer-for-hire, researcher, educator, advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

On email: